Some things that could be part of a reduced baseball schedule

Who would have ever thought we’d have an “opening day at home.” But today, on the day that the Major League Baseball season was set to open, here we are. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic we are getting ready to watch previous great games. And not watch, attend or report on new ones.

Major League Baseball yesterday made an announcement with a spoiler alert: Every team wins on this opening day. MLB will be showing a rebroadcast of one game for each team. For the Orioles it’s the American League Division Series Game 2 against Detroit at Camden Yards from 2014. Yep, the Delmon Young game. It airs at 4 p.m. on You Tube and Orioles.com.

Meanwhile, according to various reports and stories over the last two days, talks are ongoing between MLB and the Players Association on many topics. Both sides seem to be committed to playing as many games as possible in 2020. Although right now it’s clear that no one knows when that can start, or even if it will start.

But here are some things that could come into play:

How to schedule more doubleheaders: By using the minor league rule that games are seven innings each when playing a doubleheader. Again, these would be temporary for just this year, but it would be a plus if teams could add games this way without having to cover 18 innings on the mound. I would think these would all have to be straight doubleheaders so fans could get more baseball bang for their bucks too.

ESPN reported that the players union, in talks with MLB, has let it be known they are open to playing as many as two doubleheaders per week to get as close to 162 games as possible.

One reason for this could be their paychecks. MLB may be looking to prorate salaries in line with the number of games that do get played.

Does MLB have to consider this?: That being the placing of a runner at second base to start an extra inning. I can’t see many fans going for this one. But for this year it may be necessary. How bad would it be for any team to open the season with an 18-inning game or playing 14 and 16 innings during a first three-game series, for instance.

Yes, these long games are rare but they do happen. MLB may have to try to make sure they don’t. Perhaps there would be a rule to play innings 10 and/or 11 under normal rules and go to this rule of placing the runner at some point to try to hasten the ending of the game.

Alex-Wells-spring-training-jpgShortened second spring: If and when they can get the season started, it could take a month of games to get starting pitchers fully built up. It will be hard for MLB to tell fans who have waited this long to wait another month for games that count. I can foresee a rush job on a second spring training. One week, two weeks, 10 days, something pretty quick to ramp up rapidly. This is where expanded rosters with more than 13 pitchers could come into play, with starting pitchers that can only go three or four innings at the start of a new season.

Start the new season with the All-Star Game: This is an interesting thought posed by The Athletic yesterday. Whenever this could be held, at that point, fans will be beyond hungry to see a game. So why not start with a bang and put the stars on one field in one game and make it a major event?

The season could start the next day or the day after that.

Something sort of like this happened with the 1981 All-Star Game in Cleveland. The game was set for July 14, but a baseball strike from June 12 to July 31 wiped out that date. So the game was played on Aug. 9 and the season resumed the very next day.

By the way, the O’s had three in that 1981 game, with Ken Singleton batting fifth and starting in left field. Pitcher Scott McGregor and first baseman Eddie Murray were AL reserves. Singleton went 2-for-3 with an RBI, Murray 0-for-2. McGregor did not pitch. No, Cito Gaston was not the skipper.

Playoff games at warm-weather sites: If the season is extended, this comes into play. How can you risk a playoff game in, say, November in a northern city? I guess you can, but man, that would be risky. Would playing a World Series game in 30-degree temps with flurries be a good idea? For sure, no. But would playing at a neutral site such as Miami in front of 10,000 people with no atmosphere be a good idea? Doesn’t sound like one to me. This is why I think that if MLB extends the season at all, it will only be for a week or two. With a couple of doubleheaders, they could almost get in an extra 20 games.

A couple of other notes:

New draft list: Baseball America expanded its latest list of the top prospects for the 2020 draft from 200 to 300 on Wednesday. Click here for the latest list, which features Vanderbilt infielder/outfielder Austin Martin, now at No. 1. He is followed by Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson and Texas A&M lefty Asa Lacy.

Speaking of the Delmon Young game: For a look back at how we covered it, click here for the game story from that day. Click here for some of Young’s postgame comments. Want to look back at the game blog from that day? Click here for that.

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